YuktaMedia is excited to introduce the third speaker in the “Meet The Experts” series. The goal of this series is to interview leading professionals in the digital publishing industry around the globe. The goal is to learn from the experts, especially now, that the Publishing industry is hurting the most. We hope that by sharing and learning from each other’s experiences Publishers will continue to not only survive but thrive over the years to come.
Our third interview is with Pradeep Vankamamidi, Programmatic / Ad Operations Expert – Europe Region at OLX Group. Pradeep has been in the online advertising industry for over 8+ years and had the privilege to work globally within India, UK, and Europe Mainland regions. Currently, he is working for the largest classified publishers in Europe. The ad industry has always been fascinating to him with its brilliant tech and opportunities.
We are grateful to Mr. Vankamamidi for taking the time out of his busy schedule and participate in this initiative of giving back to the Publishing community.
Aditya Bhelande – COVID-19 has added to the misery of already hurting Publishers. Looking back what and where did things go wrong for Publishers?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – Out of all the businesses that were majorly impacted by COVID-19, I would consider advertising to be one of them. Publishers being a part of an ecosystem, had to pay the price. I am not sure how it went exactly in APAC & US, but Advertising in Europe took a massive hit. Working with one of the major publishers in Europe our advertising revenue share fell from March to June, companies have cut down all the marketing budgets due to which there was a change in strategy on how ad teams function in the company.
However, in the past two months, we have seen the revenue curve turning upward, and considering there wouldn’t be a second COVID wave, conditions should stay in the same direction.
To answer your question based on my experience above, Publishers being dependent only one Ad-revenue is what went wrong, there should be more than one revenue stream to maintain a steady revenue.
Aditya Bhelande – With Publisher revenues dwindling, would it make sense for Publishers to invest in any technology/platform (SaaS or in-house)? If yes, which business areas/technologies would you suggest?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – The publisher is a big term to use when it comes to suggestions, I would rather categorize and share one or two examples in order to convey the message better way. Firstly, it is important not to depend on one revenue stream considering the last 6 months that we went through. Secondly, identifying the second or more revenue streams based on the type of your business is crucial. For example, e-commerce publishers can find out alternative ways like pay and ship, delivery goods, business accounts, etc. or News publishers can try sponsored content, premium users, subscriptions, etc.
Based on your business niche, there are plenty of opportunities available to suit your needs. You can take help from the outsourcing companies or consultants to identify your alternate source of income.
Aditya Bhelande – With 3rd party cookies going away soon, what steps do you think Publishers should take so that they are ready to brace the impact on revenue and business in general?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – Tracking user data is a huge concern across the globe, with GDPR and CCPA in Europe and USA respectively, it seems like it is not too far before APAC brings in new data law. Cookies play a major role in tracking user and 3rd party cookies going away is something to worry about. It is important to look for alternative solutions and update your roadmap to stay ahead of the curve.
First-party data is the current best solution we have, but it has its own liabilities, being a part of a company which has a huge amount of first-party data one needs to know that it requires huge investment in maintaining the data and metrics are not enough on analyzing a user behavior or interest as user behavior varies from site to site.
Saying that, if we can understand the behavior of a user that we collected in our first-party data on a larger scale which is across different sites and platforms, it should give away to being less dependent on cookies.
Aditya Bhelande – How should Publisher manage their audiences, related data, and leverage these from a monetization perspective?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – Continuing discussion on Audience / Data topic; managing your audience is like an investment, this helps in understanding your audience much better. Once you know more about your audience, you know what their needs are and when you cater to your users’ needs, the performance of the campaign automatically improves.
Leveraging audiences is something the sales team would love to do is what I have seen in my experience; the data segments based on interests, behavior, demographics, etc. are like tools for any sales pitch.
Aditya Bhelande – There have been some talks about Publishers forming consortium’s to take on BIG Tech. Is that feasible? What would be the challenges and is there a way to make a consortium successful?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – Not aware of this, also I am not sure how feasible this is considering publishers are different in many aspects like positioning, design, audiences, etc. Also, it varies from market to market. With Covid’s impact and more revenue-driven publishers, it is challenging to keep all of them under one umbrella.
Aditya Bhelande – How will the rise of OTT impact traditional web Publishers (News, Finance, Sports, etc.)? Is there potentially an opportunity for web Publishers?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – We are living in a world of competition and innovation, so OTT and VoD are current new trends that are changing some aspects of the business on the internet. Traditional web publishers should find a way to be a part of this ecosystem to compete. One of the opportunities that I can think of is news publishers should be available on social media platforms in all formats and as an app in smart televisions, not just being but consistently improving the product and taking measures in engaging the user.
Saying that there are some platforms like Whats App, Facebook messenger, or Skype which cater to a different set of audience, publishers like news, finance, or sports can be less worried on communication platforms.
Aditya Bhelande – Which revenue generation strategies should Publishers now pursue in addition to advertising revenue? And how will these strategies differ by Publisher size?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – We have discussed a few opportunities in previous questions. To sum it all in a single sentence – no matter which category of publisher you belong to, you should look at a solution that will guarantee the retention of your customers.
A quick example I can think of is in a classified business where trust of the product is a bit of concern; introducing a discounted delivery rate for subscribed customers could help you retain the customer.
Aditya Bhelande – Do you believe that Publishers today have a global presence similar to say a New York Times? What suggestions would you give to aspiring Publishers to get there?
Pradeep Vankamamidi – The Internet is one medium that made the world a smaller place to live in, so yes, I do believe that publishers have the opportunity to have a global presence. The reason why NY times or BBC are the global publishers is because of quality and relevancy in content along with marketing. If you understand your audience well and start targeting the relevant audience across the globe, ensuring that you provide a good quality of data, I will say becoming a global publisher is not impossible.
Aditya Bhelande – What would be your top three recommendations for Publishers as they try to get through COVID-19 and beyond?
Pradeep Vankamamidi –
- Survive this phase, things have started looking good in the EU am sure APAC should come back as well.
- Focus on your users and work towards retaining them.
- Innovate and be a part of the ever-changing ecosystem.
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